small biz chats: Vanessa of Noirvé
In this week's edition of Small Biz Chats, I'm chatting with Vanessa Gonzales of Noirvé. She's a graphic designer with gorgeous style, and I've been following her freelance to full time journey on her blog while being inspired by her work for a long time. She's got some inspiring insights to share today about building her business - let's dig in!
What is your business, and why did you start it? Noirvé is a one-woman design studio specializing in branding and website design for small businesses and bloggers. I love helping people and making them look good. : )
After gaining experience at a design agency where I eventually became creatively unfulfilled and freelancing during nights and weekends (which was exhausting!) I knew it was time to make a change and leap into new territory. I started Noirvé so I could be in charge of the work I create and the clients I take on.
What were you doing before you launched your business? Flashback to 2011 I actually went to culinary school for baking & pastry, it was during culinary school where I picked up graphic design while I was running my blog and taught myself Photoshop. After years of being self taught and taking on freelance projects I eventually landed a job at a design agency where I worked for a couple years to gain hands on experience. Then last September I left to pursue my business full time and have been loving every minute of it!
How did you find your first paying clients/customers, and what really helped you to grow your business? A lot of my very first clients actually came from the readership I had built up through my blog. Blogging has helped me grow in so many ways, I share bits of my life, my design projects, my process, and using blogging as a creative outlet has let me really hone in on my aesthetic and eventually potential clients see that. What has really helped my business grow is word of mouth. Past clients will refer new clients my way, other design pals will refer work to me if they have an overflow of projects, and I’ve also had people contact me who have found me on Instagram and Twitter. The internet is amazing.
What tools are most important to help you stay organized and on task? I’m currently obsessed with Pancake and Teux Deux. Pancake helps me keep track of invoices, clients and project management. I use Teux Deux every single day and love that it syncs with my phone. There’s also the Self Control app. If you’re like me, I get SO distracted during the day with social media. This app will block specific sites from you for a set amount of time which allows you to focus on work.
What aspect of your business is your absolute favorite thing that you do? I have absolutely fallen in love with designing websites for clients. There are so many options, and it’s so fun being able to come up with unique interactions and effects. It’s also great being able to collaborate with developers on how to make my designs come to fruition on the web.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to launch his/her own dream business? Don’t try to do it all. If there’s an area in your business that you’re not good at, hire it out. I’ve seen so many business owners get caught up in trying to do every single thing, but sometimes it’s better mentally to just hire someone who specializes in areas where you don’t particularly flourish. For example, everyone freaks out about taxes, and I can’t recommend it enough to just hire a CPA! Especially if starting a business is new for you : )
Thanks to Vanessa for sharing her insights!
All images are copyright Noirvé.